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Matthew Gigg

HND Nautical Science

Graduated 2015

Matthew Gigg

What made you want to be a deck officer in the Merchant Navy?
I used to teach watersports and while I loved it, there was something niggling away. Something wasn’t fulfilling my needs, and I realised it was my thirst for adventure. I loved the idea of seeing the world. I spoke to a friend who was doing a cadetship, who told me about his course and his sponsoring company – from that point on, I was hooked! 

I did a lot of research and applied to a number of sponsoring companies, and was overjoyed to be offered a sponsorship with V.Ships (previously Bibby Ship Management).  

What was your training at Warsash like? What stuck with you from your academic studies?
Every lecturer has their own style of teaching, and you will not always get on with every lecturer or every teaching method. But you have to work past this, adapt and be versatile; the lecturers are ultimately there to help and get you through your cadetship, they don’t want to fail you! Every lecturer who taught me had an abundance of knowledge which was very useful to me.

I found I had a real passion for celestial navigation. I loved the stories behind the stars and I loved being able to replicate what seafarers of old used to do. I loved learning how to use a sextant – and this actually came in handy in my orals! 

What was your first sea phase like? Was it what you expected?
My first sea phase was busy! It was a four-month trip on Foreland Vessels’ roll-on-roll-off (ro-ro) cargo ships. I loved it. I had an amazing chief officer who was very knowledgeable about celestial navigation. He knew I had a passion for it and was more than willing to pass his knowledge on to me. 

I would advise any cadet to get off ship as much as possible to explore every location, because as an officer you won't get as many opportunities to do so. During my cadetship I visited countries such as China, Oman and Bahrain.

You received the MCA Officer Trainee of the Year Award - tell us more about that
I was humbled and honoured to be nominated and win. I actually found out both at the same time! I was shocked and excited, and I’m still overwhelmed to have won. 

I faced a life threatening illness during my cadetship, but I didn’t let that affect my mental wellbeing or my approach to my studies. I saw it as my challenge, not my holdback. I applied myself to the course and my academics speak for themselves in the face of adversity. I like to think I was an integral part of my cohort and a good representative for Warsash at the events I attended. 

The ceremony was held at Trinity House in London. The building is spectacular – I would highly recommend anyone to visit it. The ceremony was small, around 100 people, but that made it more personal and more special. My proudest moment was having my fiancée and my family with me to see me receive the award.

Tell us about your career so far
I started out working for an independent dredging company called Severn Sands, sailing as first mate. I was responsible for navigating, maintenance of fire-fighting and life-saving appliances and all the dredge gear.  

But I’ve just recently gained a position in an offshore fleet, which was always my ambition – I’m 2/O and navigation officer on a platform supply vessel for V.Ships Offshore. Next step is to gain my dynamic positioning tickets, and from there I’m aiming to achieve chief officer status, and ultimately master mariner.

What advice would you give someone wanting a career in maritime?
Do your research to pick the right training provider for you. Different providers offer a different variety of vessels you can sail on. Take every opportunity you get, and get ashore as often as you can while you’re away. 

With this line of work, you take out what you put in. I put everything into qualifying and have come away with many people who I would consider lifelong friends.

Find out more about officer cadet training at Warsash Maritime Academy

Shipping containers, stacked

Henrik Sollie Klokk  

BSc (Hons) Maritime Business

Graduated 2017

Henrik Sollie Klokk

To me, maritime business studies are the link to raise the bar within shipping, contributing to more efficient and sustainable world trade.

This course is for you if you wish to pursue a highly international and multicultural career few, if no other industries can offer. Shipping accounts for 90-95% of total global trade, making it one of the most important industries in today’s society – driving financial markets, globalisation and development. If you want to contribute to an enhanced global trade, this is the right course for you.

It consists of a comprehensive collection of units, introducing you to most segments of this wide industry. From weather routing to financial analysis, you are provided with crucial knowledge from various aspects which you can build upon.

The University creates assignments similar to real industry situations and challenges, giving you a ‘hands-on’ experience within your studies, which definitely prepares you for a career within the maritime industry.

Along with studies, trying to get as much diverse industry insight as possible has been my top priority. One of my best Solent memories was our trip to Antwerp and Rotterdam, where we got to visit the immensely large port facilities which shows the importance of seaborne trade.

I also tried to figure out what a future employer would prefer from their candidates, and I figured that if I were the employer, I would look for people who showed more than just knowledge, but passion for the industry, although this might sound a little cliché.

This allowed me to complete four internships in three years, within various industry segments in countries such as Hong Kong, Cyprus, and Norway. These internships not only provided me with knowledge and insight, but my CV reflected that I was a young and eager student that illustrated great interest for the industry.

I do not believe I would have been called to interview at many of the companies I applied for if it was not for my internships, and extra-curricular activities at the University, such as the Solent Maritime Society. Now I am employed by one of the largest dry bulk and tanker owners in the world!

I work in the dry bulk department for a company called D/S NORDEN AS, located in Copenhagen. The company also operates tankers, resulting in a total fleet of about 270 ships. As a trainee, I will be rotated around the various departments within the company, and really learn how a shipping company is built from the inside.

The working days are quite hectic, full of knowledge and learning. You are given a lot of responsibility, which makes you a feel that the company really believes in you. It is a company with a great history and a formidable reputation, and being able to get a position there straight after graduation was beyond my expectations.

Discover BSc (Hons) Maritime Business

Capri harbour

Elle Watson

Phase three merchant navy deck officer cadet  

Graduated

Elle Watson

What made you decide to become a merchant navy deck officer?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a keen interest in navigation, cartography, and generally knowing my way around, to the extent that I was nicknamed ‘Pigeon’ at a young age, because my sense of direction was like that of a homing pigeon. I also come from a seafaring background, as both my parents are ex-Royal Navy medics and are now high up in the local Royal Naval Association, so I have grown up with tales of life at sea. 

The maritime industry and careers at sea sometimes seem to be like a ‘best kept secret’ – how easy was it to find information about officer cadet training?
The recruitment process is fairly simple, once you know what’s to be done. For those who don’t know, there are three areas you can study as a Merchant Navy officer cadet: deck (which is what I’m doing), engine, and electro-technician.

Unlike university applications, you apply to a shipping company for a cadetship and if you’re successful they’ll choose which college you go to. You can request a specific college, but some companies may choose to send you far away to prepare you for being away from home, like you would be at sea. 

Being away from home for the first time, for some, can be quite daunting. Were there any activities to help you get to know others in the cohorts when you got to Warsash?
Every phase one cadet has to live on campus; this not only make it easier for us all to get to know each other, but it’s also normal to share cabins on board ship, so it gets you used to sharing a sleeping and living space with someone. On the first night we arrived there was a band put on in our campus bar. 

We had morning muster every day for the first few weeks which took place at 8am and involved everyone in the phase. Our first week was induction and was mostly introductions and safety presentations, but our first Friday was the day we really got to know each other better, starting with paintball and ending with a night out in Southampton organised by Solent SU.

How did you find your first sea phase? Was it what you expected?
I think my sea phase was both exactly what I expected and yet completely different. Coming from a seafaring background I’d been told many stories about what life at sea is like so I did have an idea of what to expect.

I was on two ships during my sea phase, spending about three months on each. My first ship was the Trinity House Vessel Galatea, which is a buoy tender operating around the UK coast. The second was Condor Ferries’ Commodore Goodwill, a ro-ro freight ferry operating between Portsmouth and the Channel Islands.

My time on the THV Galatea will always stay with me. The crew made me so welcome, especially as I was extremely nervous about being on my first ship. I worked with both the officers and the crew while on board, all of whom were very happy to teach me and answer any questions I had. 

There are many moments that stick out, ranging from hanging off the side of a light vessel in the middle of the Dover Strait in four-metre swell, to helicopter operations off Lundy, Eddystone Lighthouse and the Isle of May, and surveying a fishing vessel that had sunk the night before in the Dover Strait.

The two ships had completely contrasting environments, primarily in terms of crew nationality. I had no issues with this, especially as I adore learning about different languages and cultures, but it did prove to be harder circumstances to work in, with language barriers and different views coming in to play. 

The number of female ship’s officers is still very small, although we are seeing more women enter the industry. What advice would you give to any aspiring female deck or engineering officers? 

Do it! And stick with it! I’ve seen both positive and negative aspects of being a female at sea, from being treated slightly better than the male cadet I was with because I was in the minority – not in the sense of respect, but because those providing training wanted me to succeed more as I was female and I was proving that females can be officers – and good ones at that.

Discover our Warsash Maritime Academy officer cadetships

Container ship at docks

Josh Payne

BSc (Hons) Maritime Business

Graduated 2015

Josh Payne headshot
How did Solent University prepare you for your career?

“University allowed me to join a workplace with the same knowledge of somebody who had been there for several years. Also, that knowledge allowed me to bring a different perspective on some situations.”

Maritime Business is for you if you want a course that looks at the whole industry and the different sectors within it. You’re sure to make a lot of great friends who, when you leave, become superb industry contacts.

Tell us about what you are doing now, and what it involves – a typical working day.

A typical day could involve boarding a container ship in the morning to undertake arrival formalities with the Captain. Then I return to the office and look at time reports on container vessels calls and identifying ways we can turn these vessels around whilst in port more quickly.

An afternoon may then involve booking 20 cars and 5 diggers onto a ship down to South America and completing the necessary documentation.

What’s your career highlight so far?
My career highlight so far was being made Port Manager in only two years of leaving University.

What tips would you give to someone wanting a career in your industry?
Work hard and always keep up to date on industry news.

Discover BSc (Hons) Maritime Business

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